Ariana Grande, the 20-year-old pint-sized beauty with a powerhouse voice, debuted her first album, Yours Truly, at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 — causing grownups across the nation to scratch their heads. Who the heck is this little lady and where did she come from? Luckily for the olds, teenagers have known all about Ms. Grande for a long, long time (like, three years, at least). Here's what you need to know, in a nutshell, to get all caught up:
1. Grande made her professional acting debut in 2008 when she was cast in 13: The Musical on Broadway when she was 15 years old.
2. Grande first appeared on the Nickeleon show Victorious — which is about a performing arts high school — in 2010 as total airhead Cat Valentine. She had red hair and an annoying baby voice.
3. While the star of the show was Victoria Justice, it quickly became clear that Grande was the fan favorite. And pretty dang talented to boot.
4. As Victorious started to fizzle, Grande began to slowly release her original music. Her first single, "Put Your Hearts Up," was released in May of 2012 and is incredibly cutesy. When Grande is being herself she has auburn hair.
5. She prefers to dress like an ice capades star slash slutty '50s housewife whenever possible. See Exhibits A, B, and C.
6. Nickeleon caught on to the fact that Grande was one of its biggest assets (sorry, Vic) and decided to cancel Victorious and pair her with another Nick fan fave, iCarly's Jennette McCurdy, for their own show. Sam and Cat premiered on the network in the summer of 2013.
7. Grande collaborated with fellow up-and-comer Mac Miller, earning herself some street cred.
8. And The Wanted's Nathan Sykes, to push the romance envelope.
9. And that brings us to the part where Grande's fame skyrocketed and people older than 16 began to take notice. She released Yours Truly on September 30 and immediately critics began dubbing her a mini Mariah Carey (and they definitely weren't wrong). She performed at the MTV Video Music Awards pre-show:
And Jimmy Fallon:
And released her video for "Baby I" — in which she even looks like a mini Mariah.
And so, it would seem, Grande has successfully transitioned from squeaky clean teen star to a pop sensation on the rise without licking a single sledgehammer. Keep an eye on this one, she's going places (in spite of her penchant for tulle skirts).
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As if the big, incredible, unbelieveable, and totally predictable "twist" (the equivalent of Ryan Seacrest popping on stage to say "Oopsie, America!") on American Idol wasn't enough to elicit sighs strong enough to blow houses down, it was preceded by the "triumphant" return of one Lee DeWyze.
DeWyze won Season 9 of American Idol and was promptly flung into obscurity, never to be heard from again until this fateful April night. He burst back onto the Idol stage, with a video package in which he declared his success since the finale (even though Idol fans knew better). Then, as he approached the mic and began to sing his new single "Silver Lining" (already echoing the recent success of a certain Jennifer Lawrence movie), it became apparent that Lee wasn't doing his thing, but several other people's "things."
Being the detailed, judgemental Idol viewer that I am, I couldn't help but draft a full report of all the grievances DeWyze has taken against other artists, beards, and Ryan Cabrera. But first, some context:
Now, let us count the ways DeWyze has stolen every last piece of his new game:
Ripoff #1: Ryan Cabrera's Hair, Ashley Simpson EraDeWyze chose a toned down version of Cabrera's 'do, because while he may be unoriginal, he's not that much of a masochist. And it's no longer 2003.
Ripoff #2: Jonah Hill's NeckbeardThere are three kinds of people who can pull of neck beards: politicians from the 1860s, Sam the Eagle, and people who star on A&E reality shows. Clearly, DeWyze doesn't know that.
Ripoff #3: Marcus Mumford's Dapper English Lad Style I understand this one. Who wouldn't want to cash in on the ridiculous appeal of Mumford's boyish, delightful charms? The problem is, you kind of have to actually be Marcus Mumford to get any of the effect.
Ripoff #4: Phillip Phillips' "Home"DeWyze is in such dire straights that he needs a hit, and he needs it now. Rather than go back to drawing board to figure out which part of his own sound he could bring out of the Nickelback chasm it calls home in order to find success, he just looked to mildly successful Phillips, whose song "Home" blew up over the summer. Give the chorus of "Silver Lining" a listen and tell me it doesn't sound exactly like this:
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There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.